Cultural evolution has its own versions of parasitism, and these versions are as diverse as they are in biological evolution. I wish to briefly describe two examples of cultural parasites: the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party.
Parasitism is a spectrum, but it can be roughly categorized into chronic and acute parasites. Acute parasites make you very sick very fast, and you either die or you get well pretty soon. Chronic parasites make you mildly sick for a long time. For parasites that spread by direct contact, natural selection often favors evolution from acute toward chronic parasitism.
The Democratic Party is a chronic parasite. Democratic politicians are relatively harmless. But their ideas continue to sap the economy and the country. They do not seem to take the problem of deficit spending seriously. And their solution (more so in the past than at present) is often to create a government bureaucracy to solve a problem. Each component of the bureaucracy has a certain amount of inefficiency, and the whole thing compounds into a tremendous amount of inefficiency. They are like a very big but harmless tick that rides on your back and gives you a massage. You will notice that the Democrats nod their heads toward science and the environment, but take little meaningful action. (One exception: Barack Obama decided to take action on global climate change last week, rather than to wait for Congressional Democrats or Republicans to do so.) At this time of year, we all recognize the IRS as a very inefficient system. We have to pay taxes, but what about the hundreds of hours of our lives required to correctly fill out all of the forms? (Don’t forget the AMT form. It appears to be required.) I think that, for the first time ever, I have gotten the hang of it, and it took only a dozen hours or so for me to complete my taxes.
Do you remember back to 2009, when President Obama wanted to give tax credits to working people? It was $400 per individual, $800 per couple. But to get these credits, you had to fill out a separate schedule, which required more calculations. He meant well, but this sort of thing is a Democrat’s idea of being nice: create a nice new level of bureaucracy.
In contrast, the Republican Party is an acute parasite. They approve budgets that they know they will not go along with, and then when the government tries to pay its bills, they create an artificial crisis. They have one scheduled this month. They plan to not raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills they already authorized. The last time they did this, they led us a few hours into default. If they cause the country’s credit rating to drop, we will be even deeper in debt due to possible hikes in interest rates. They can kill us, and they know it; they apparently plan to take us to the edge of mortality once again.
The Republican Party is the Ebola virus of cultural evolution, and the Democratic Party is the walking pneumonia of cultural evolution. I will take my chances with the pneumonia, but I’m (cough, cough) not happy about it.